Best and Worst States for Business

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41. Illinois
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +0.4% (13th worst)
> Avg. earnings: $64,071 (9th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 34.4% (13th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.0 per 100,000 people (16th most)

Illinois’s GDP grew by just 0.4% in 2017, even as the U.S. economy expanded by 2.2%. Conditions in the state may not improve in the near future. Economic growth is often driven by population growth, and the number of working-age adults in the state is projected to decline by 3.9% between 2020 and 2030.

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42. Oklahoma
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +0.7% (15th worst)
> Avg. earnings: $52,582 (20th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 25.5% (8th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.3 per 100,000 people (4th fewest)

Oklahoma’s business climate may be hampered by low educational attainment rates. Just over a quarter of adults in Oklahoma hold at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the lowest proportions of any state. This may stifle growth of industries that required higher-skilled employees, and may help explain the state’s low venture capital investments.

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43. Ohio
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +1.6% (25th best)
> Avg. earnings: $55,843 (22nd highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 28.0% (15th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 1.3 per 100,000 people (24th most)

A college education is often a prerequisite for employment, and in Ohio, just 28% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than in the majority of states.

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44. Rhode Island
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +0.7% (14th worst)
> Avg. earnings: $57,954 (17th highest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 33.5% (17th highest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 2.2 per 100,000 people (13th most)

Rhode Island is the only state in New England and the broader Northeastern United States to rank among the 10 worst states for business. Part of the reason is high unionization rates, which restricts the ability of employers to set wages and benefits. Rhode Island is not a right-to-work state, and 17.3% of the workforce is in a union, a larger share than in all but four other states.

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45. Kentucky
> 1-yr. real GDP change: +1.7% (24th best)
> Avg. earnings: $49,410 (10th lowest)
> Adults with a bachelor’s degree: 24.0% (5th lowest)
> 2018 venture capital deals: 0.9 per 100,000 people (11th fewest)

Kentucky’s residents are some of the least healthy in the country. This can become a major burden on employers if workers are forced to miss work because they need medical care. Kentucky also has a far higher than average 17.2% poverty rate, meaning fewer residents have disposable income to stimulate economic growth.